Breeder or 'Greeder'
I've mentioned before that finding a responsible breeder is very much a minefield ('What Constitutes a Puppy Farmer?') but COVID-19 seems to have brought out the worst in so many people. There have been numerous reports of unscrupulous ‘greeders’ across the country asking extortionate prices, selling sick puppies in service stations, and the like.
I keep an eye on some of the websites that allow the advertisement of pets for sale as I like to know what is going on outside of KC registered dogs and oh my... I really should stop as it upsets me greatly. These sites are filled with endless adverts offering puppies of any breed, or crossbreed with silly names attached, for even sillier prices (sometimes two or three times higher than the price of a well-bred, KC registered pup). They tend to be a 'beloved' pet mated with a friend's dog 'down the road' meaning that absolutely no thought has gone into the 'why' and 'who to' of breeding a litter. Actually, I'm telling a porky... there is one thought that has gone into the 'why' part and that is ££££££.
There has been no consideration as to the faults of the bitch or the stud, whether they double up on these, or whether the dogs have a certain fault that shouldn't be bred from at all. Every dog has faults to an extent, no dog is absolutely perfect, and some faults can be improved on with a good match of bitch and stud. However, good conformation is the first point of call when it comes to the health of a dog and it is clear from so many adverts that this has not been thought about. Some are even promoting faults as a good thing (dogs advertised for stud with 'perfect Queen Anne legs' for example). A responsible breeder will be able to tell you their dogs' faults and also explain why they have chosen a particular stud. They are also usually willing to travel hundreds of miles if necessary to ensure they have made the best possible match.
Likewise, the majority, if not all of these dogs have not had the available health tests done, leaving the puppies open to numerous hereditary diseases and their new owners at risk of not only large vet bills but also premature heartbreak in the worst of cases. Some adverts will state that health checks will be carried out on the puppies but this is just a basic check over by a vet. The health tests that need to be done require DNA swabs to be taken and sent off to a laboratory. This costs money though and some breeds require a lot of testing due to potential genetic conditions. If you have a crossbreed the number of conditions needing testing for can be huge.
"All pedigree and crossbred dogs can suffer from inherited diseases which are passed on from parent to puppy.
Health testing and screening allows owners and breeders to screen for inherited diseases, the results can then be used to help make sure that only healthy dogs are bred from. Responsible breeders should always health test the dogs they plan to use for breeding. To make sure you are buying a happy and healthy puppy, always ask to see the relevant health test results for both parents." (https://www.bva.co.uk/canine-health-schemes/)
The ridiculous hike in prices for these litters is just mind-blowing. Even more so is the fact that people are obviously willing to pay those prices, either due to pure ignorance or because they simply do not want to wait for a responsibly bred litter, enabling the ‘greeders’ to cash in. Unfortunately, the more of these poorly bred puppies that are bought, the more are bred, and the higher the prices will go until demand slows down. A responsible breeder is not in it for the money, their prices will be consistent and will not jump up to the extremes we are seeing on these selling sites.
Fraudsters are out in force as well, with numerous reports of potential buyers placing deposits down on puppies, sometimes before they are even born, and then the seller doing a disappearing act. This week, my husband had 14 people turn up at one of his farms during the day looking to collect their Spaniel puppy. Each of these people had paid a deposit and been told to pick up their puppy at that location on that day. The ‘breeder’ had obviously sent fake pictures of puppies to them and used the COVID-19 situation to stop them coming to view the puppies.
It’s a shame that we live in a society of ‘immediacy’ as it is my firm belief that this is the main reason that puppy farmers and backyard breeders exist (and don't forget they can also register their dogs with The Kennel Club). They capitalise on the ‘I want it now’ mentality and the puppies are the ones that suffer for it. I dread to think how many puppies bought during lockdown will end up in rescues when their owners go back to work and realise they don’t have the time for a dog, or when they reach adolescence and go through the ‘naughty teenager stage’. I am already seeing young puppies being sold on after just a few weeks (days sometimes!) because they don’t get on with their cat/gerbil/unicorn, or are misbehaving (it’s a puppy, that’s what they do…). If everyone put as much time and effort into researching a breeder as they do when buying a house then perhaps we would see change.